Love is such an important word. Regardless of who you are and what path you follow love is somehow at the centre of things.
Love is a many splendoured thing, love lifts us up where we belong, all you need is love! (Moulin Rouge)
In the sacred scriptures of the Judeo-Christian tradition there are four words used for love: Agape (unconditional divine love), Phileo (friendship love), Storge (familial love) and Eros (romantic/erotic love). Of the four agape is used the most and store is used the least times.
The term agape, unconditional, divine love is encompassing all the loves and is comprised of all of the loves and none as it is love for loves sake, love without an object or subject. Agape is love of the highest order, it is the essence of love, it is the source.
Eros however is often in the church placed in the corner on the naughty chair. One would think, looking at evangelical christianity and the churches way of talking about love in general and eros in particular that eros is loves evil twin or maybe loves least favourite cousin.
In the bible eros is only found in the song of songs (in the septuagint), but there it is celebrated. Rabbi Akiva has been quoted saying:
“All the days of creation is not worth as much as the day that the song was included in the scripture … for all the scriptures are holy, but the song is the holy of holies.”
In the modern western church we have tried to make the song to portray the love between Christ and the church but as a pastor once said if that is the relationship between Christ and the believer … Oh my!
The song is overtly erotic and subverts the asexual nature of western religion. In the church we see the result of suppressing the eros erupt in sex scandals and sexual abuse, in broken marriages and infidelity.
It is time to bring eros back into the church. We need to reclaim sexy and erotic as positive values that are part of the sublime beauty of god. In our feeble attempt to ban eros from the church hall we have bundled eros up with lust, domination, abuse and porn, we use words like dirty and nasty to portray eros. While lust is about conquering and possessing (immature masculine) eros is the sublime beauty of the sacred union. It is all the sublime qualities of love making that makes it a gateway into the divine realm.
Eros is an integral part of the divine love, eros is expressed within the trinity and so beautifully described as perichoresis the sublime erotic dance of the divine merging in sacred tri-union. Eros is expressed in the knowing of Adam and Eve. Eros is expressed in the meeting of Jesus and the Magdalene. Eros is the substance of the metaphor of the bride and groom, the final consumption or sacred union of the marriage between god and god’s creation. Eros is the language used by the saints when they describe the mystical experience of union with god.
So if we exclude eros from our spiritual path we are missing out on a central point of the divine love, we are simply not getting all of the divine love we are not allowing ourselves to be fully loved, how can we then love fully?